Explaining orthographic variation in a virtual community : linguistic, social, and contextual factors

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Title: Explaining orthographic variation in a virtual community : linguistic, social, and contextual factors
Author: Iorio, Joshua Boyd
Abstract: The purpose of this project is to investigate factors that can be used to explain orthographic variation in City of Heroes (CoH ) , a virtual community based in an online role -playing game . While a number of models of variation exist for speech , to date , no statistical models of orthographic variation in virtual communities exist . By combining traditional variationist methods with computational text processing , this project documents socially meaningful alternations in the linguistic code regarding two types of sociolinguistic variables , namely spelling and use of abbreviations . For each of the two variable types , two dependent variables are posited , i .e . the alternation between : 1 ) –ing and –in in durative verbal aspect marking in forms such as coming and comin , 2 ) –s and –z markers of plurality in words such as cats and catz , 3 ) abbreviated and full forms for referential abbreviation in terms such as Atlas Park and AP , and 4 ) abbreviated and full forms for conative abbreviations in terms such as looking for team and lft . The study investigates the role that the following factors play in explaining orthographic variation in CoH : 1 ) message length , 2 ) standardness of the immediate linguistic environment , 3 ) cognitive load , 4 ) relative proximity in the virtual space , 5 ) degree of message publicness , 6 ) experience in the community , 7 ) avatar gender , and 8 ) social group affiliation . Through mixed -effects , multivariate models , the study demonstrates that each of the predictors has some role in explaining the orthographic variability observed in the textual record of the community . Moreover , interactions between some of the predictors prove to be significant contributors to the models , which highlight the importance of addressing interaction terms in models of language variation . The findings from the study suggest that the socio -contextual meaning of particular structures in the CoH community lead authors to make linguistic choices , which are realized as alternations in the linguistic code . Finally , implications for the study of language variation in general are discussed .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -05 -727
Date: 2011-01-24

Citation

Explaining orthographic variation in a virtual community : linguistic, social, and contextual factors. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -05 -727 .

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